Poverty, Hunger and “Dark Money”

           Predictions about which issues will shape the agenda of the new Congress have dominated the news since last Tuesday elections.  Poverty and hunger have not been on the lists, even though 45 million Americans have been stuck below the poverty line for three consecutive years.  

One reason, as the NY Times editorialized on Sunday, is that “The next Senate was just elected on the greatest wave of secret, special-interest money ever raised in a congressional election…. In the 2010 midterms, when this practice was just getting started, $161 million was spent by groups that did not disclose donations. In this cycle it was up to at least $216 million…”  Neither party’s wealthy donors have a deep understanding of poverty or the desire to make it a political priority.

Against this backdrop of unprecedented amounts of special interest money being spent to buy elections on behalf of those who have everything, Share Our Strength and A Place At The Table are partnering to get millions of dollars of media donated to build political will on behalf of those who have almost nothing at all, not even enough to eat.

It’s not sufficient to counter the vast amounts of money being spent to keep elected officials focused on other issues. But it’s a start, and a critically important “first” in the effort to end hunger.

It’s symptomatic of our broken political system that much of the post-election debate is over which party’s wealthiest donors – represented by the Koch brothers on one hand and by Tom Steyer on the other – got the better return on their investment, and not about how either party can best represent the dreams and aspirations of all Americans from richest to poorest. The latter question holds the seed of the political revolution that still needs to happen.

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